Inside Out - Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith
Inside Out - Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith at the press conference moderated by Scott Mantz. Beverly Hills, CA - June 7th 2015 ©2015 Disney•Pixar

Disney Pixar has created a totally unique and moving feature with Inside Out, which spotlights the inner emotions of an 11-year-old girl named Riley.

Based in Headquarters, yes, in Riley’s head, the emotions are hard at work led by Joy (Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation), whose job it is to keep Riley happy. But she must contend with Riley’s other emotions, Sadness (Phyllis Smith, The Office), Fear (Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live), Disgust (Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project) and Anger (Lewis Black, The Rant is Due: Part Deux tour) who feel they are protecting the child too.

The voice cast spoke with journalists at the press day for the movie. The film, directed by Pete Docter (Up, Monsters, Inc.) and produced by Jonas Rivera (Up) opens on June 19th.

What was it like for you when you were first approached by Pixar to do this film?

Inside Out - Lewis Black
Inside Out – Lewis Black aka Anger ©2015 Disney•Pixar

Lewis Black: I was like the first one cast, so I was really the tipping point. As soon as the others heard I was in it, they couldn’t wait to be with me. (he laughs)

(Pixar’s) humility  is really almost psychotic. They sent me a box of stuff with a letter in which they said that I may not know who Pixar is, which meant that they were crazy or they thought I was some sort of recluse.

They said that they had this role of Anger and would I be interested in it?

Inside Out - Mindy Kaling
Inside Out – Mindy Kaling aka Disgust ©2015 Disney•Pixar

Mindy Kaling: That is really true, it’s almost like Pixar and Pete and Jonas (are) like dating this really well raised guy that doesn’t know he looks like Tom Brady, and (he says) ‘We did these other movies.’ You’re like, ‘I’m in.’

Inside Out - Bill Hader
Inside Out – Bill Hader aka Fear ©2015 Disney•Pixar

Bill Hader: They act like it’s a real privilege that they get to do their jobs.

I kind of stalked them. Back in 2010 I went to them and said, ‘I wanna take a tour of Pixar.’ I met Pete and Jonas. There’s a scene in the movie that deals with a live television element. [They said], ‘We’d like to come to SNL. I said, ‘Come to SNL.’

They hung out at SNL for a week for reference of that sequence and so they let me come and hang out at Pixar as a thank you, and then [said], ‘Do you want [to play] Fear?’ I said, ‘Sure.’

Inside Out - Phyllis Smith
Inside Out – Phyllis Smith aka Sadness ©2015 Disney•Pixar

Phyllis Smith: I was very excited to get the call. I went to Emeryville and Pete and Jonas told me the story and showed me the pictures, and immediately without missing a beat, I said yes, and I had a great time.

Inside Out - Amy Poehler
Inside Out – Amy Poehler aka Joy ©2015 Disney•Pixar

Amy Poehler: I came to the project later. They had done so much work already and a lot of the people had already recorded, so I got this PowerPoint presentation of what the idea was. I just loved that the setting was the mind of an 11-year-old girl.

From the minute they told me the idea I was like, ‘This film is gonna be the best Pixar movie ever made, and it’s gonna win an Oscar.’

What is your favorite Disney or Pixar movie?

Bill Hader: The other movie Pete and Jonas did, Up – by far was just unreal. I thought it was really great. That’s what Pete is good at.

It’s like a real artist, it’s not a pandery kind of thing – Up (has) an old man who ties balloons to his house and it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen.

Phyllis Smith: I’m an Up person as well. I date myself, but it’s like Cinderella and the older Disney (movies)..

Amy Poehler: Sleeping Beauty, Cinerella, Snow White – all those. I love Cruella De Vil (in 101 Dalmations) A meaty character part for a woman.

I love Wall-E. I just love the first 35 minutes of no talking. It’s like the big risk, big reward philosophy of Pixar.

Mindy Kaling: When I was younger, since I (didn’t) resemble any (of the) princesses, it (was) hard to really attach to them; but I really liked Robin Hood as portrayed by a fox, and I thought that he was very dashing and while not human, I had a crush on him.

Lewis Black:  Up had a big effect. It just irritated me because I was old enough at that point to go, ‘What I wanna do for the next couple of hours is confront death; that’s kind of a fun thing for me to think about.’

Someone who’s spending his whole life avoiding thinking about it, and it’s literally like, ‘Oh boy, I’m gonna die.’

Click on an image for a larger view of the emotion character posters. Use arrow keys to scroll through the gallery.

If you could play another emotion, what would it be and why?

Amy Poehler: I’d like to play Anger. That feels like the one that next to Joy and Sadness for me is in the driver’s seat and it’s just funny – Anger is so funny.

Bill Hader: I would say Anger is the fun one, yes. It’s just very therapeutic.

Phyllis Smith: I’d like to be Angry as well as Disgusted. Anger and Disgust.

Lewis Black: Disgust, that’s really my second (choice).

Mindy Kaling: I think I would be Anger. It’s not necessarily socially acceptable to be angry (as) a woman, and so that would be a fun thing to be able to do.

Phyllis Smith: What does that say about us that we all wanna be angry?

Amy Poehler: No one wants to be Joy, isn’t that interesting? (she laughs)

Inside Out videobytes

The cast was asked how they related to their roles. Click here to watch what they had to say
As with all Pixar features, it is preceded by a short film, and with Inside Out it’s a delightful movie called Lava, about a lonely volcano longing for companionship and love.
The film’s director, James Ford Murphy, showed us how he pitched his idea for the movie to John Lasseter at Pixar. Click here to see it … and, yes, he is singing the word lava, not love.
And this is how it looks in the movie – click here.

Lava is a short inspired by the isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes, a musical love story that takes place over millions of years. Opens in theaters on June 19th 2015, in front of Inside Out


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.